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Americans Stationed in Vietnam Don’t Share Kennedy Administration’s Optimism

July 28, 1962 - The Kennedy Administration’s cautious optimism on the progress of South Vietnam’s war against the Viet Cong is not widely reflected among Americans stationed in Saigon to help in that fight. The furthest any American there is willing to go is to say that President Diem’s regime has a 50-50 chance of defeating the Communist guerrillas. Many others, including officers training and advising the South Vietnamese Army, believe the odds are slimmer than that. Almost no one agrees with statements such as that made this week by Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara after a conference in Honolulu with U.S. officials based in Vietnam. He declared at that time that “the Vietnamese are beginning to hit the Viet Cong where it hurts the most — in winning the people to the side of the Government.” The consensus among Americans in Saigon is that political apathy or even hostility within large segments of the population toward the Diem regime continues to be the Communists’ biggest asset.


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